Connect review – a GP waiting-room pamphlet brought to life

The Guardian Entertainment 3 weeks ago

In a tiny, relentlessly picturesque coastal Scottish town, shy young Brian (Kevin Guthrie) is a good-looking chap with a steady job in an ironmongers. He’s got a reasonably affectionate family living nearby and seems to have a few friends – or at least one, in the shape of co-worker Gavin (Cameron Fulton), a queeny quipper who is possibly the only gay person in the village.

However, Brian is desperately lonely, tortured by suicidal thoughts and unable to share his troubles with anyone around him. One night, just as he is on the verge of jumping off a cliff on to the rocks below, a kindly stranger, Jeff (Stephen McCole), pulls him away from the edge, literally and metaphorically. Then he persuades Brian to open up a little, and help out at the care home he runs.

This leads to a meet-cute with single mother Sam (Siobhan Reilly), and Brian eventually starts to make more connections with the people around him, finding little tethers to keep him from falling into the same ever-beckoning pit of despair that many others in the community – and even people in Brian’s immediate orbit – have fallen into. Before the end credits roll, on-screen text explains that suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45 in this country; a terrible statistic that is shocking but sadly not surprising.

Writer-director Marilyn Edmond’s film is clearly aiming to dramatise this problem in an accessible way, but unfortunately too often plays like a pamphlet in a GP’s waiting room brought to life. Working with sketchy characters who are little more than clusters of symptoms, the actors seem to be flailing to breathe life into the material. Worst of all, the last-scene twist is ill-considered and entirely off-message.

Connect is released in the UK on 25 October.

Tags: Film

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